Apple, RIM in group buying Nortel patents for $4.5B

JUNE 30, 2011 11:09 PM PDT
A consortium comprised of Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research In Motion, and Sony has purchased Nortel Network's remaining patent portfolio for $4.5 billion in an auction that began earlier this week.
The group purchased some 6,000 patents and patent applications encompassing technologies such as wireless, wireless 4G, data networking, optical, voice, Internet, and semiconductors, Nortel announced late Thursday.
Nortel, which filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2009, said in a statement it was pleased with the auction's outcome.
"The size and dollar value for this transaction is unprecedented, as was the significant interest in the portfolio among major companies around the world," George Riedel, Nortel's chief strategy officer and president of business units, said in a statement.
The sale was originally slated to occur in mid-June but was delayed due to what Nortel said was a "significant level of interest." Google offered more than $900 million for the patent portfolio from the bankrupt Canadian telecom-equipment maker in April, leading Nortel to place a deadline for others to bid higher.
However, the auction reportedly attracted the attention of the Justice Department, which was said to be looking into whether the winner would be gaining an unfair edge against the competition.
The need for companies to have a so-called "war chest" of patents has become an increasingly important part of doing business. Mobile devices in particular have become the latest target of patent litigation, due to their combination of features that may have previously only been available in standalone electronics.
The sale is subject to approval by U.S. and Canadian courts and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2011.


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